Talk:compare NB provincial party policies on education
93 per cent of N.B. children are not getting recommended amount of physical activity
Seven per cent of N.B. children getting recommended amount of physical activity Daily Gleaner May 5th, 2010 By ADAM BOWIE
New Brunswick may have some work to do, but Wellness, Culture and Sport Minister Hedard Albert says he believes the province is increasing its commitment to physical activity.
Only seven per cent of New Brunswick's children are getting the recommended amount of physical activity each day, according to a national study released last week. That figure ranks the province last in Canada.
But Albert said he believes the provincial government's wellness strategy, which is expected to introduce a number of initiatives by the end of 2013, will help turn the crisis around.
The plan includes four pillars: mental fitness; healthy eating; physical activity; and tobacco-free living.
The provincial will attempt to build partnerships between its departments, community groups and employers that will focus on using resources in the community and to develop policies that support healthy lifestyles.
The strategy will also try to measure the province's performance by tracking national studies and surveys, and increasing homegrown research capabilities with partners at the University of New Brunswick and the Universite de Moncton.
Albert said he believes this is the start of a healthier future.
"I'm confident that in the very near future the results of what we are trying to do, with our investments, with our programs, (will be seen)," he said.
"And if you look around the province more and more and more small communities, villages, and towns are talking about wellness now, physical activity, and healthy eating. They have meetings, they organize everything around the province - that means it's working."
Several schools have introduced pilot projects that allow more time for physical education each day.
Eighty schools are participating in a daily pedometer challenge - which sees students measure the number of steps they take during the run of a day. By 2012, Albert said, every school in the province will be participating in the step-count program.
Physical activity programs and wellness centres have been launched in many communities in the province as part of an effort to make resources more accessible for residents.
Albert said children are a critical population to target, but teenagers, adults and seniors must also buy into the changes.
"We want to reach not only the children and the youth, but also the parents and those who are working with those people because what we are saying, 'If parents are active, kids will be active,' " he said.
Gabriela Tymowski, an associate professor at UNB's faculty of kinesiology, said she's happy the government is promoting the importance of physical activity and better eating habits, but she'd like to see more concrete measures put in place.
"You can only have so many policies. Ultimately, you've got to actually do it," she said.
She said many of the provincial government's strategies are short on details and ways to measure their impact in the long term, such as a recent promise to promote wellness in governmental workplaces.
"Unfortunately, some of those promises are really vague. What does that actually look like on a day-to-day basis, having a healthier workplace?" she said.
"We need to see concrete steps being taken, for example, the elimination of high-sugar drinks from schools. Eliminating, not reducing. Or actually following through on ensuring that children participate in daily, quality physical education and physical activities."
Tymowski said New Brunswickers have to make a commitment to healthier living.
"Obviously, what we're doing is not particularly effective. So we need to re-double our efforts and re-examine our priorities," she said.
Albert said it's critical that attitudes change now, before health-care costs become unmanageable.
"We are the worst for smoking, we have a lot of obesity, a lot of diabetes and so on and so forth," he said.
Bullying reduction collaboration Daily Gleaner May 4, 2010 By MARILYN NOBLE, Community-based adult educator
After a decade of active professional involvement in addressing bullying (both among children and youth and in the workplace), I have followed attentively the recent debate about the proposed anti-bullying amendment to the New Brunswick Education Act.
Permit me to offer some observations, and to advocate for some constructive dialogue here.
For a number of years, I worked very closely on this issue with School District 18, and I know that many of its leaders have made genuine efforts at bullying reduction.
I wish I could say that all schools are currently dealing with the bullying problem effectively, but the truth is that although some significant progress has been made, we really aren't there yet.
Over the years, I've fielded many calls from parents of bullied children and teens.
Too much bullying continues to go unaddressed and too many young people continue to be victimized by their peers and sometimes by adults. And let's not overlook the reality that sometimes those working in the education system are also bullied.
The current version of Policy 703, Positive Working and Learning Environment (updated in December 2009), says most of the right things.
But, too often, I hear of schools failing to do the kind of follow-through for which it calls. That is what has led Rob Frenette and his supporters to propose legislation that sets more stringent standards. Their commitment to this cause is to be commended.
The latest version of Policy 703 delineates the following as "serious forms of misconduct": bullying, hazing, and any form of intimidation; possession, use, or provision of weapons; possession, use, or selling of illegal or dangerous substances or objects; possession of or sharing of pornographic materials; physical violence; sexual assault, harassment, abuse and misconduct; dissemination of any hate propaganda or hate literature; harassment; uttering threats; vandalism; theft; disruption to school operations. That's quite a list, isn't it? And there's a further tally of "behaviours not tolerated", which includes (among others) discrimination, disrespectful or inappropriate language or gestures; and shoving, pushing, or minor physical altercations.
The proposed amendment adds to the list social exclusion, stalking, sexual or racial harassment (a category which should probably be expanded to include other forms of targeting of marginalized or disempowered groups), and public humiliation.
It also uses the word "teasing," where "taunting" might be a more appropriate term. The amendment further tries to give bullying reduction efforts more teeth by pairing the option of suspension with a requirement to take part in awareness programs that emphasize the negative fallout of bullying.
What will it take to put an end to bullying?
Building empathy, equipping students and staff to reach out to bullying targets, and instilling a sense of social responsibility are all part of the solution.
Another crucial piece is having policies and services in place to deal with severe or entrenched bullying, dysfunctional behaviour, psychological problems, and criminal acts, which these milder measures are inadequate to address.
The revised Policy 703 covers much of this, but I suspect that further professional and public awareness is needed in order to bring these measures into full effect.
Refinements made to policies midway through the school year take time to become widely known, well established, and fully operationalized throughout the school system, and I strongly suspect that this process has not had time to run its full course.
Unquestionably, we need to insist that teachers, administrators, and parents step up to the plate in a consistent and united way to curtail bullying attitudes and behaviours.
Ignoring these problems allows them to go unchecked. At the same time, this is not a one-size-fits-all problem.
There is a need for room to determine on a case-by-case basis what forms of intervention are most appropriate and most likely to achieve the desired results.
We are, after all, talking about young people who are still learning, growing, and developing, and who need sound adult guidance and role modeling.
When I step back to analyze the current discourse, I see several key points as common ground:
- Everyone in our schools deserves to be safe.
- In spite of efforts to date, bullying remains an urgent, complex, and pervasive problem.
- It takes a continuum of measures to deal effectively with bullying.
- To achieve lasting and effective results, all of the stakeholders need to play their part.
- If we're to solve this problem, we need to listen to one another and work together.
A great deal remains to be done in order to ensure that all of our schools are safe, respectful, inclusive, and harassment-free settings for everyone. Not only are students' physical, emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing on the line here: kids' lives are at stake. There shouldn't be "sides" in this debate, or political point-scoring.
What the situation calls for is a coming together of all of the stakeholders around this widespread and urgent issue, in order to work out informed, proactive, and effective steps to tackle it with the level of serious commitment that it so desperately warrants.
Marilyn Noble is a community-based adult educator, who lives in Fredericton.
NB Government: proposed anti-bullying legislation amendments to the Education Act
On March 25, 2010 opposition Leader David Alward opened debate in the New Brunswick legislature for “An Act to Amend the Education Act”. The bill asks that a number of definitions of bullying be added to the [http://www.gnb.ca/0062/acts/acts/e-01-12.htm Education Act}, including:
• Teasing • Social exclusion • Threats • Intimidation • Stalking • Physical violence • Theft • Sexual or racial harassment • Public humiliation • Destruction of property
The anti-bullying amendments also places responsibility for suspending students onto school principals and requires those engaging in bullying behaviour to participate in educational programs which highlight the harmful consequences associated with bullying and harassment before returning to school.
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Anti-Bullying Activist Plans Four Day Vigil At Legislature Rob Frenette, co-founder of antibullyingcanada.ca